As we approach the end of 2020, we can begin to reflect on how our city has weathered the ongoing pandemic thus far; how existing inequities exacerbated enormous challenges; how OSI-Baltimore responded to emergent and ongoing needs; and our role—and the role of philanthropy more broadly—in creating a racially just and liberated Baltimore.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic challenged families, communities, systems, and governments like few events in recent history. How will these challenges—and the responses to them—change the way we live, learn, work, and heal?
For OSI, the tumultuous events of 2020 coincided with several internal changes: new leadership in Director Danielle Torain, who joined the organization in January; our first year without a significant fundraising program; and a stakeholder engagement and strategic planning process designed to clarify our mission and vision across program areas. In many ways, navigating how we as an organization could best respond to this year’s challenges solidified our thinking around a core set of priorities.
In 2020, in order to respond to the COVID pandemic and its deep economic impact as well as a wide range of other challenges and opportunities, OSI dramatically increased its grantmaking, making more than 120 grants—almost twice as many as in 2019—totaling over $8.8 million (see graphs). Beyond increasing the number of grants and the dollars granted, OSI also shifted its approach, leaning into several public-private partnerships to support the people of Baltimore.